WASHINGTON — Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., said he is planning to introduce a new version of the Employee Free Choice Act that could garner enough support to prevent a Republican filibuster.
According to reports, Specter's proposal, which he has been working on with other Democrats since stating earlier this year that he would not support the bill as it was previously proposed, would not include the controversial “card check” provision. That provision, which is sought by unions and vehemently opposed by many businesses, including food retailers, would allow workers to form a union based on a majority of signed cards rather than through a secret ballot election.
Specter switched his affiliation from Republican to Democrat this year, helping boost the Democratic majority in the Senate to the 60 votes needed to prevent a filibuster. Some other Democrats also had said they would not support the original incarnation of EFCA, but Specter reportedly told an AFL-CIO gathering earlier this month that his revised bill could gain the support of all the Senate Democrats — a replacement for the late Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., included — to block a Republican filibuster.
Specter's proposal reportedly would speed the time between workers' stated intention to form a union and an actual vote, allow more union access to workers in some instances and triple the penalties for employers who violate union organizing rules, according to a report in the Washington Post.
His proposal also would reportedly include a compromise on mandatory arbitration in the event that workers and employers cannot reach an agreement on a contract.